Is User Experience Affecting Crypto Adoption?
There is nothing like a bull run to attract users to the cryptoverse and blockchain. Fortunes can be made quickly and it is a high like no other. And crypto does not discriminate: anyone who plays it right can grow their bag. Whether it is a 20-something cashier, middle-aged parent, or almost retired janitor pushing a broom. If you have the principal to invest, choose the right cryptocurrency, and know when to HODL and when to take profits, you could very well change your wealth.
But is the current user experience (UX) affecting widespread crypto adoption? For example, could your Grandpa open a wallet and learn how to transact? Could your next-door neighbor discover how to fund a local exchange from their bank account? Could your former school teacher be trusted to not lose funds in the cryptosphere during a wallet-to-wallet transfer?
In case the answer is not evident to current users of the present system, it seems that user experience is affecting widespread crypto adoption—and there is a very steep learning curve. Is the crypto process teachable? Yes, of course. But are potential users lost in the process? Absolutely.
I recently counted the steps of procuring, converting, and transferring crypto to an official wallet. Without funding the transaction by credit card on a Global Exchange, the process had at least 8 steps—and various substeps. Most investors outside of the US will have a similar process, with US investors possibly having fewer steps.
Tell me if this is a user-friendly experience, or is it a bit much?
- a) Send fiat from a bank account to a local exchange/fiat onramp using an email money transfer.
b) Provide a password and Interac security answer in order to send out the funds.
c) Receive an email confirmation that the EMT is successful and the cash has exited the bank.
- Use fiat to buy Bitcoin on the same local exchange.
- a) Send Bitcoin from the local exchange to the Global Exchange.
b) Confirm the security email from the fiat onramp, in order to transfer Bitcoin to the Global Exchange.
- a) Wait for Bitcoin to arrive in the Global Exchange. It takes many cycles for the crypto to be verified by the system. This could be 5 minutes, 15, 30 or more (yes, it has taken over an hour before).
b) Hyperventilate if the process takes too long and you think that your crypto is lost forever.
c) Receive an email confirmation that Bitcoin arrived at the Global Exchange (you can breathe easier, now). This email generally arrives before the crypto appears in your Global Exchange portfolio.
- a) Once Bitcoin appears in your Global Exchange portfolio, swap it for any crypto of your choice, like Algorand.
b) Receive an email confirmation that your converted crypto is now available.
- a) Send the converted crypto from the Global Exchange to its official wallet or another external wallet.
b) Verify the wallet address multiply times, as this is where investors tend to mess up and lose their crypto into the ether, never to be recovered again.
- a) Receive an email and/or text from the Global Exchange asking you to verify the transfer out of crypto, depending on whether you have two-factor authentication (2FA) set up.
b) Enter a 7-digit verification code into the Global Exchange to approve the transaction.
c) Enter a different 7-digit code into the Global Exchange if you also have 2FA set up.
- If you followed the steps right: hurray! Receive the crypto to the official wallet or external wallet. If you followed the steps wrong: boo! Sob uncontrollably if you sent the funds to the wrong wallet, improperly entered wallet, or incompatible wallet.
Let me say nicely that the user experience is affecting crypto adoption, but we can work together to fix it. Crypto should not just be for clever 20-something investors, it should be for everyone. For example, Grandma should be able to pay her curling club membership in crypto, or your mechanic should be able to accept crypto from his customers wanting to pay for car repairs.
So what changes can we implement to make crypto more user-friendly? Is it not a double-edged sword that the security that is essential in crypto is also what makes it cumbersome and sometimes punitive? We are used to creature comforts like Customer Service to reset forgotten bank card pins in our former CeFi lives. A forgotten seed phrase in the DeFi world is akin to kissing your sweet crypto bag goodbye.
Boomerang Failsafe Feature
Why not implement a “boomerang” failsafe feature? For example, when sending wallet-to-wallet, being able to recall funds if they are not confirmed as received at their destination. I am not specifically talking about a clawback feature for all accounts, but being able to set it up between trusted accounts.
Let this wash over you: more than 34% of the current supply of Bitcoin has either been lost or is being long-term held. I would go with the former over the latter. What if we could prevent this loss by having better security features? What if across the board you could only send crypto to compatible wallets and existing accounts? Although this mechanism does already exist, it is not an overarching feature.
Fewer Steps: Fiat to Crypto
Let us also uncomplicate the process of converting fiat to crypto. Must there really be an 8-step process from the fiat onramp to crypto resting in its official wallet? The US is doing better than most countries in cutting down on steps and the rest of the world wants to enjoy this sweet simplicity too. A great first step would be to be able to fund a Global Exchange using an old-school bank account instead of a credit card. I know there is this small thing called government regulations, but whatever.
Take Time to Educate
Until the time that the user interface is more intuitive for crypto users, we as a community must wholeheartedly take the time to educate new adopters. Whether it be your mom, your best friend, an elderly acquaintance, a work colleague, or some guy at the bus stop. We need to be patient benefactors of knowledge and generous with our time. Who was your crypto mentor? Think back and it was not too long ago that someone taught you the system. In the interim, we must overcompensate for the poor user experience, by offering a fantastic community experience.